giveaways!

Ashes of a Black Frost (11/1) | The Shattered Vine (11/3)
Coming soon:

drey's Giveaway Policy

FTC Disclosure: I am an affiliate at IndieBound, The Book Depository, and Amazon, and any purchases made by clicking on covers or links here may result in monetary compensation.

Giveaway: Supreme Courtship by Christopher Buckley...

September 30, 2009
supreme courtshipAbout the book:
President of the United States Donald Vanderdamp is having a hell of a time getting his nominees appointed to the Supreme Court. After one nominee is rejected for insufficiently appreciating To Kill A Mockingbird, the president chooses someone so beloved by voters that the Senate won't have the guts to reject her -- Judge Pepper Cartwright, the star of the nation's most popular reality show, Courtroom Six.

Will Pepper, a straight-talking Texan, survive a confirmation battle in the Senate? Will becoming one of the most powerful women in the world ruin her love life? And even if she can make it to the Supreme Court, how will she get along with her eight highly skeptical colleagues, including a floundering Chief Justice who, after legalizing gay marriage, learns that his wife has left him for another woman.


Soon, Pepper finds herself in the middle of a constitutional crisis, a presidential reelection campaign that the president is determined to lose, and oral arguments of a romantic nature. Supreme Courtship is another classic Christopher Buckley comedy about the Washington institutions most deserving of ridicule.

Read an excerpt:


Giveaway!
Thanks to Hachette Book Group, I have up to five copies of Supreme Courtship for you...
Rules:
-- Contest is open to US and Canada residents, no PO Boxes please!
-- Answer a question for an entry. Answer all of 'em for 4 entries total. How many justices on the Supreme Court? Who is the current Chief Justice? Who is the former Chief Justice? How many are women? EMAIL ME the answers, please. You can comment here to let me know you emailed. =)
-- Follow for 1 extra entry.
-- Share for 2 extra entries (let me know what & where, please).
-- Every 10 people entered gets another copy in the hat, so tell everyone! =)
-- Do it all before 6:00 pm CST October 13th. Good luck!

Review & Giveaway: 169. Evenings at the Argentine Club by Julia Amante...

September 29, 2009
argentine clubAbout the book:
In the close-knit Argentine-American community of Burbank, California, there are rules about marriage, family, money, and success. Tradition dictates that you must stay close to those who know you best. But two young people are questioning their parents' version of the American Dream--and turning their world upside down.

All her life, Victoria Torres has navigated nimbly between her family's expectations and her own U.S.-born sensibilities. But when her successful, irreverent friend Eric Ortelli unexpectedly returns to the Argentine Club--the heart of their community--she, too, dares to break some rules. Soon secrets are spilling out of marriages. Generations are shifting in and out of conflict. And the dream of a better life for their children held so tightly by the older generation starts to morph into something new. Everything is changing . . . in a place where everything has always stayed the same.

drey's thoughts:
Julia Amante's Evenings at the Argentine Club is a thoroughly enjoyable read. At its core is a story about a young woman trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life, which I'm sure many of us can relate to in one fashion or another. She also has to then convince her family that wanting to try for her dreams isn't something that goes against their traditions and values, but instead is something that should be encouraged and praised.

The Argentine Club, such as it is, reminds me of gatherings--formal or informal--when people who share a common nationality get together while in a "foreign" land. They gather to share stories, to eat together, to keep a hold of the traditions they followed when home. There is something comforting about finding others who share similar backgrounds. And Julia Amante's depiction of the events and activities at the Argentine Club evoke memories of when my family was here for one very short year, while my father was attending Air Command and Staff College, and the group of fellow Malaysians that we would get together with.

Of course, there's also drama aplenty in Evenings at the Argentine Club! Victoria's parents go through a patch, when her mother realizes that she's spent her whole life taking care of Victoria and her sister, and now has drifted away from the man she fell in love with. Her father's not blameless either, sticking to the archaic notion that a man has to provide for wife and children, without input from either. And all of them learn what it means to love each other. Perfect for book clubs looking for a fall read.

Julia will be on BlogTalkRadio today at noon CST!! Call in and chat with her!

Giveaway!
Thanks to Hachette Book Group, I have up to five copies of Evenings at the Argentine Club for you...
Rules:
-- Contest is open to US and Canada residents, no PO Boxes please!
-- To enter, comment and share something about Argentina, or immigrants.
-- Follow for 1 extra entry.
-- Share for 2 extra entries (let me know what & where, please).
-- Every 10 people entered gets another copy in the hat, so tell everyone! =)
-- Do it all before 6:00 pm CST October 12th. Good luck!

Title: Evenings at the Argentine Club
Author: Julia Amante
ISBN-10: 0446581623
ISBN-13: 9780446581622
Paperback: 330 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing, 2009

Challenges: 100+, Pub

Winners!

September 28, 2009
highland rebel'Tis time for winners again... And the two lucky ducks getting a copy of Judity James' Highland Rebel are:

Comment #21, coffeeeeeeeee!!

Comment #1, Wanda!!

Congratulations!! Emails have been sent, please reply with your mailing information before the end of day Thursday.

Thank you for swinging by drey's library!

Want the book? Click on the cover to purchase from Amazon.com.

Tour: A Highlander's Temptation by Sue-Ellen Welfonder...

a highlander's temptation tour button

Today's tour is for Sue-Ellen Welfonder, and her newest book, A Highlander's Temptation. There's lots to peruse, so grab a cuppa, snuggle up to the computer, and READ ON!! =)

Sue-Ellen has taken the time to put together a lovely essay to share with you--complete with breath-taking pictures! Check it out:
Heart Places

We’ve all heard the term “happy place.” You know – it’s where people go (or would like to) when life gets stressful. But what if you just plain want to be somewhere else?

As a card-carrying Scotophile, you can guess where that place is for me.

I visit Scotland as often as I can, but it’s never enough. The longing to return is fierce and ever-present. It’s a terrible thing, really. Not fatal, thank goodness. But it sure can make you miserable. Anyone who loves Scotland and travels there and then – oh, no! – has to board a plane that will carry them in the wrong direction across the Atlantic (namely away from Scotland) knows what I mean.

Even before you fasten your seatbelt, you’re aching to be there again!

Realistically, at that point, it’s too late to do much more than accept your fate. Sad that it is!

But once you gulp and get past the initial pain, there are a few things you can do to relieve the suffering.

Reading Scottish-set books is one. If the author did her job right and genuinely loves Scotland, her words will soon whisk you where you want to be.

My own latest Scottish medieval, A Highlander’s Temptation (GCP, Oct. 2009) will sweep you right into the heart of some of Scotland’s finest scenery. You’ll get to visit Eilean Creag Castle in Kintail which, my readers know, in reality is none other than Eilean Donan Castle near Skye.

Eilean Donan is probably Scotland’s most photographed castle. Of all the photos I’ve taken there, I’m rather partial to this one.

duncan's castle

It’s easy to see why Eilean Donan – called Eilean Creag in my books – is so well-loved. A Highlander’s Temptation (GCP, Oct. 2009) opens there, as do many of my MacKenzie Scottish medievals. The castle is home to Duncan MacKenzie, after all. He was the hero of my first book, DEVIL IN A KILT, and his story launched an entire series.

A Highlander’s Temptation (GCP, Oct. 2009) is the tale of his eldest daughter, Arabella. And although she loves her home dearly, she really wants to go on an adventure. She wishes to journey to the Seal Isles which are part of her dowry. Much to her father’s dismay, the Seal Isles also happen to be located at the far end of the Hebrides. In fact, Duncan thinks of them as being at the very edge of the world.

They are, of course.

And that just gave me – as the writer – even more opportunities to revisit some of my very favorite places in Scotland as I wrote A Highlander’s Temptation (GCP, Oct. 2009).

Writing Scotland is the next best thing to being there.

Scotophiles who read A Highlander’s Temptation (GCP, Oct. 2009) should also enjoy Arabella’s journey. They’ll get to visit the medieval village of Kyleakin on the Isle of Skye. And they’ll even be able to experience setting sail from Kyleakin harbor, journeying on a merchant cog.

kyleakin harbor

Other Highland places await your reading adventure. A Highlander’s Temptation (GCP, Oct. 2009) will transport you to Devorgilla’s fabled Isle of Doon, MacConacher’s Isle, which is the wild and windswept home of the hero, Darroc MacConacher. And you’ll also get to explore Arabella’s super-special Seal Isles. These isles might be fictitious, but they are based on very real Hebridean isles such as my own ancestral isle, Colonsay.

Olaf Big Nose’s isle will give you a good look at a lusty and colorful Viking settlement. And for those who, like me, are also keen on all things Norse, there are glimpses of Asa Long-Leg’s home in Shetland. Scalloway (Asa’s village) is very real and a place I love visiting. I had lots of fun going there again in the pages of A Highlander’s Temptation (GCP, Oct. 2009) and I hope readers will, too.

Of course, there are times when the best books and even the most fun writing sessions aren’t enough.

If those times fall when you can’t board a Scotland-bound plane, a great emergency treatment is to seek out a substitute heart place.

No, I am not joking.

Such places do exist.

And if you use your imagination, for a brief time, you can pretend yourself into your heart place. Sort of like Dick van Dyke did in that wonderfully whimsical sidewalk painting scene in Mary Poppins.

In case anyone is rolling their eyes about now, here are just three examples of heart place magic.

***Spoiler alert – Only those with whimsy and imagination should read on!***

Here we go…

I took this photo during a lovely evening stroll at Findhorn in Scotland. Findhorn is a very magical place and even the air there feels special. I also have a very dear friend, Eileen, who lives near Findhorn.

findhorn sunset

Sometimes when I really wish I was at Findhorn again, walking with Eileen and having a wonderful time as only good girlfriends can, I interrupt my daily cycle round to sit on this bench you see below.

manatee bench

This bench has a view that – come on, admit it! – could be anywhere. As this is Florida, there are often manatees in the water, which is neat. But to me, the real attraction is that I can sit here, stare across the water, and use my imagination to transport myself to Findhorn.

The next comparison is a bit of a stretch, but you have to remember that I’m in Florida. And it helps, too, to have a vivid imagination.

Below you see a wooded path in Scotland’s far north. It leads to a ruined crofting settlement in Strathnaver.

wooded path

Here now is a subtropical ‘wooded path’ that I pass every day on my cycle rounds. (yes, I cycle daily – it helps against deadline spread) It requires lots of fantasy, but each time I peddle past this path, my heart leaps because - for a fleeting moment – this view takes me back to Strathnaver. Once again, I am marching along through a Scottish wood, on my way to spend time in the ruined crofting settlement of Rosal.

rossal road

My third example is better. When in Scotland, I love staying in self-catering cottages, cozy inns, and bed-and-breakfasts. But every once in a while, I enjoy treating myself and will stay at a fine country house hotel. These richly atmospheric places always have lovely gardens such as this one in Royal Deeside.

raemoir hotel

Now take a look at the magnificent tree below. You guessed it, I pass this tree on my cycle rounds. Sure, the tree and this bit of green isn’t Scotland. But when I am stuck here in Florida and yearning to be there, riding past this tree gives me a few moments of pleasure.

fake scotland tree

Because, whether it’s in Florida or not, the look and feel of this tree transports me. When I see this tree, I can almost imagine it’s a cool misty day and that I smell woodsmoke drifting on the air.

I enjoy these heart place substitutes.

They work like emotional band-aids until I can be back in Scotland for real. And if Scotland is the place you love, I hope you’ll let A Highlander’s Temptation (GCP, Oct. 2009) take you there.

Question – where is your heart place?

Scotophile readers looking for a Highland fix can find that and more at my website: www.welfonder.com.

Isn't this just the most lovely guest post you've ever seen? I love the pictures!! Thank you so very much for sharing, Sue-Ellen!

About the author:
Sue-Ellen Welfonder is a card-carrying Scotophile whose burning wish to make frequent (free) trips to the land of her dreams led her to a twenty year career with the airlines. Bi-lingual, she flew international all those years, working her flights as foreign language speaker. Her flying career allowed her to see the world, but it was always to Scotland that she returned.

Now a full-time writer, she’s quick to admit that she much prefers wielding a pen to pushing tea and coffee. She spent fifteen years living in Europe and used that time to explore as many castle ruins, medieval abbeys, and stone circles as possible. Anything ancient, crumbling, or lichened caught her eye. She makes annual visits to Scotland, insisting they are a necessity as each trip gives her inspiration for new books.

Proud of her own Hebridean ancestry, she belongs to two clan societies: the MacFie Clan Society and the Clan MacAlpine Society. In addition to Scotland, her greatest passions are medieval history, the paranormal, and dogs. She never watches television, loves haggis, and writes at a four-hundred-and-fifty year old desk that once stood in a Bavarian castle.

Sue-Ellen is married and currently resides with her husband and Jack Russell Terrier in Florida. Readers can learn more about her and the world of her books at: www.welfonder.com.

a highlander's temptationGiveaway!
Thanks to Hachette Book Group, I have up to five copies of A Highlander's Temptation for you...
Rules:
-- Contest is open to US and Canada residents, no PO Boxes please!
-- To enter, comment and share: Where is your heart place?
-- Follow for 1 extra entry.
-- Share for 2 extra entries (let me know what & where, please).
-- Every 10 people entered gets another copy in the hat, so tell everyone! =)
-- Do it all before 6:00 pm CST October 11th. Good luck!

Tour stops:
9/24:
Yankee Romance Reviewers
Book Soulmates
Seductive Musings
Just Another New Blog
9/25:
Starting Fresh
Bloody Bad
9/26:
Sapphire Romance Realm
9/27:
The Plumber's Wife
Found Not Lost
Readaholic
9/28:
Bookin' with Bingo
drey's library
9/29:
All About {n}
9/30:
My Guilty Pleasures
10/1:
Revenge of the Book Nerds!
My Book Addiction and More
10/2:
Libby's Library News
Foreign Circus Library
Bibliophiles 'R' Us
10/3:
Books and Needlepoint
A Book Blogger's Diary
RR@H Novel Thoughts and Book Talk
10/4:
A Journey of Books
10/5:
Cheeky Reads
10/6:
Pudgy Penguin Perusals
10/7:
HODGEPODGESPV
Park Avenue Princess

Just a Little Loot...

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

Well. This last trip to the library was pretty uneventful. I only picked up two books, but I couldn't wait for more to become available... =) You'll see...


the awakeningshadow kiss

168. Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom...

September 26, 2009
have a little faithAbout the book:
What if our beliefs were not what divided us, but what pulled us together?

In Have a Little Faith, Mitch Albom offers a beautifully written story of a remarkable eight year journey between two worlds – two men, two faiths, two communities – that will inspire readers everywhere.

Albom’s first nonfiction book since Tuesdays with Morrie was published twelve years ago, Have A Little Faith begins with an unusual request: an 82-year-old rabbi from Albom’s old hometown asks him to deliver his eulogy.

Feeling unworthy, Albom insists on understanding the man better, which throws him back into a world of faith he’d left years ago. Meanwhile, closer to his current home, Albom becomes involved with a Detroit pastor – a reformed drug dealer and convict – who preaches to the poor and homeless in a decaying church with a hole in its roof.

Moving between their worlds, Christian and Jewish, African-American and white, impoverished and well-to-do, Mitch observes how these very different men employ faith similarly in fighting for survival: the older, suburban rabbi, embracing it as death approaches; the younger, inner-city pastor relying on it to keep himself and his church afloat.

As America struggles with hard times and people turn more to their beliefs, Mitch and the two men of God explore issues that perplex modern man: how to endure when difficult things happen; what heaven is; intermarriage; forgiveness; doubting God; and the importance of faith in trying times. Although the texts, prayers and histories are different, Albom begins to realize a striking unity between the two worlds - and indeed, between beliefs everywhere.

In the end, as the rabbi nears death and a harsh winter threatens the pastor’s wobbly church, Albom sadly fulfills the last request and writes the eulogy. And he finally understands what both men had been teaching all along: the profound comfort of believing in something bigger than yourself.

Have a Little Faith is a book about a life’s purpose; about losing belief and finding it again; about the divine spark inside us all. It is one man’s journey, but it is everyone’s story.

drey's thoughts:
I think I'm one of the only people on Earth who didn't read Tuesdays with Morrie. Seriously, what was I thinking? Anyway. Have a Little Faith was a lucky draw for me from LibraryThing. It sat in the car for a bit--I was reading it in spurts, while waiting in the pickup line every day. It's perfect for that, by the way--each chapter is pretty short, and gives you little nuggets to think about.

My favorite nugget? Where Mitch and the Reb solve that age old question--what's the secret of happiness? =)

Have a Little Faith will be out September 29th. Pick it up for a little lift.

Title: Have a Little Faith
Author: Mitch Albom
ISBN-10: 0786868724
ISBN-13: 9780786868728
ARC: 249 pages
Publisher: Hyperion, 2009

Challenges: 100+, Pub

A Tribute to E. Lynn Harris (& 167. Mama Dearest)...

September 25, 2009
Author E. Lynn Harris passed away this past July. In his honor, Karen Hunter Publishing and Pocket Books have created E. Lynn Harris Day on 9/25/09 as a tribute to his life and his final novel, MAMA DEAREST. Fellow authors and friends of Lynn's will be hosting events that evening across the country (a full list can be found at www.elynnharris.com), and I am honored to participate in a blog tour for Mama Dearest today.

e. lynn harrisAbout the author:
E. Lynn Harris was born in Flint, Michigan and raised, along with three sisters, in Little Rock, Arkansas. He attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville where he was the school's first black yearbook editor, the first black male Razorbacks cheerleader, and the president of his fraternity. He graduated with honors with a degree in journalism.

Harris sold computers for IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and AT&T for thirteen years while living in Dallas, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta. In 1991, he quit his sales job to write his first novel, Invisible Life, which, failing to find a publisher, he self-published and sold mostly at black-owned bookstores, beauty salons, and book clubs before he was "discovered" by Anchor Books. Anchor published Invisible Life as a trade paperback in 1994, and E. Lynn Harris’s career as an author officially began.

Harris went on to become a ten-time New York Times bestselling author. His work included the memoir What Becomes of the Brokenhearted and the novels, A Love of My Own, Just as I Am, Any Way the Wind Blows (all three of which were named Novel of the Year by the Blackboard African American Bestsellers), I Say a Little Prayer, If This World Were Mine (which won the James Baldwin Award for Literary Excellence), the classic Invisible Life, Just Too Good to Be True, and Basketball Jones.

Harris was a member of the Board of Directors of the Hurston/Wright Foundation and the Evidence Dance Company. He was also the founder of the E. Lynn Harris Better Days Foundation, a nonprofit company that provides support to aspiring writers and artists.

E. Lynn Harris passed away at the age of 54 in 2009, just months before the publication of his final novel, Mama Dearest.

mama dearestAbout the book:
One of E. Lynn Harris's incomparable heroines, Yancey Harrington Braxton, is working her way back to Broadway and beyond. And this diva supreme always stirs up drama in and out of the spotlight....

New York City, you've been warned: Yancey Harrington Braxton is back. The ambitious singer and actress is fired up to move past her recent professional and personal setbacks — including an explosive romance with NFL tight end John Basil Henderson — and prove her talents are stronger than ever. After being out on tour, Yancey realizes what she really wants is to star in her own reality TV series, and she's even found a rich and well-connected lover to make it happen. There are, however, two women fierce enough to derail Yancey's plans with ambitions of their own: Madison B., a hot new bombshell taking the music industry by storm, and Ava Middlebrooks, who happens to be Yancey's own mama dearest.

Ava is out, about, and ready to reclaim her throne. Not even a stint in prison for attempted murder has curbed Ava's competitive nature, and it doesn't faze her in the least that her #1 rival is her own daughter. Ava is willing to do whatever it takes to make Yancey pay, including using Madison B. to turn Yancey's world upside-down by forcing her to confront the past...and making her comeback dreams more exciting and dangerous than she ever imagined.

Taking readers on a wild, passion-filled tour of the entertainment world, E. Lynn Harris's Mama Dearest delivers sensual thrills and electric plot twists — with one unforgettable woman of radiant star power, sexual magnetism, and unapologetic ambition at the heart of the action.

drey's thoughts:
Wow. The only other book of Harris' that I've read is Invisible Life, which knocked my socks off. This one, I wasn't so sure about... Halfway through the book, and there wasn't a single redeemable character in sight. Yancey is completely high-maintenance and witchy. And believe it or not, her mother Ava is a hundred times worse. The way these women treated each other, and others, really made me want to put the book down in disgust.

But. Slowly but surely, things start changing. And as Yancey finally realizes that her life can be what she wants--she just needs to change the how of it--Harris brings her story full circle. And you are left satisfied with the way this one ends. The second half of this book definitely makes putting up with the first half worthwhile.

Between Invisible Life and Mama Dearest, I'm sorry I didn't discover E. Lynn Harris' writing before his passing.

Title: Mama Dearest
Author: E. Lynn Harris
ISBN-10: 1439158908
ISBN-13: 9781439158906
Hardcover: 387 pages
Publisher: Karen Hunter Publishing, 2009

Challenges: 100+, Pub

Tour stops:
Found Not Lost
Rundpinne
My Own Little Corner of the World
The Brain Lair
My Reading Room
That’s A Novel Idea
Jeanne’s Ramblings
Cheryl’s Book Nook
Just Another New Blog
My Book Addiction and More

166. Invisible Life by E. Lynn Harris...

September 24, 2009
invisible lifeIn memory of author E. Lynn Harris, Karen Hunter Publishing and Pocket Books have created E. Lynn Harris Day on 9/25/09 as a tribute to his life and his final novel, MAMA DEAREST. I thought that I should also read his bold look into the life of a bisexual black man, especially since Invisible Life has been sitting on my bookshelf, on loan from a friend, since last Christmas.

About the book:
Invisible Life is the story of a young man's coming of age. Law school, girlfriends, and career choices were all part of Raymond Tyler's life, but there were other, more terrifying issues for him to confront. Being black was tough enough, but Raymond was becoming more and more conscious of sexual feelings that he knew weren't "right." He was completely committed to Sela, his longtime girlfriend, but his attraction to Kelvin, whom he had met during his last year in law school, had become more than just a friendship. No matter how much he tried to suppress them, his feelings were deeply sexual.

Fleeing to New York to escape both Sela and Kelvin, Raymond finds himself more confused than ever before. New relationships -- both male and female -- give him enormous pleasure but keep him from finding the inner peace and lasting love he so desperately desires. The horrible illness and death of a friend force Raymond, at last, to face the truth.

drey's thoughts:
Invisible Life is a very frank take on the life of a non-heterosexual black man, and the path he weaves in his attempt to reconcile his upbringing with his sexual preferences. As I read it, I felt really bad for a whole segment of the population; one that either cannot--or do not care to--face the censure from their own, where it concerns their bedroom activities. I have to say that while I do not condone putting others' lives at risk by having unprotected sex, or lying to spouses so you can carry on your affair(s), I feel for these men.

As Raymond puts it--and I'm paraphrasing, because I can't (ugh!) find it to quote it right--life is hard enough for a straight black man, why complicate it by coming out of the closet? And E. Lynn Harris' portrayal of Raymond makes him one of the "good" guys. This is a book that will make you think about identity--gender, racial, and sexual.

Note: Raymond met Kelvin his senior year in college, not law school. I grabbed the description of the book from E. Lynn Harris' website, www.elynnharris.com.

Title: Invisible Life
Author: E. Lynn Harris
ISBN-10: 0385469683
ISBN-13: 9780385469685
Paperback: 265 pages
Publisher: Doubleday, 1994

Challenges: 100+

165. Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo...

September 23, 2009
sworn to silenceAbout the book:
In the sleepy rural town of Painters Mill, Ohio, the Amish and "English" residents have lived side by side for two centuries. But sixteen years ago, a series of brutal murders shattered the peaceful farming community. In the aftermath of the violence, the town was left with a sense of fragility, a loss of innocence. Kate Burkholder, a young Amish girl, survived the terror of the Slaughterhouse Killer but came away from its brutality with the realization that she no longer belonged with the Amish.

Now, a wealth of experience later, Kate has been asked to return to Painters Mill as chief of police. Her Amish roots and big-city law enforcement background make her the perfect candidate. She's certain she's come to terms with her past--until the first body is discovered in a snowy field. Kate vows to stop the killer before he strikes again, but to do so, she must betray both her family and her Amish past--and expose a dark secret that could destroy her.

drey's thoughts:
Sworn to Silence is a Library Thing Early Reviewers book that I just got around to reading. And I cannot fathom why I waited. Well, other than the fact that I'm buried in books right now, that is.

Anyway. If you're a fan of mystery/thrillers, you'll want to pick this one up. It's chock-full of characters you root for, crimes that'll make you shudder, and the ever-present wish that they find the killer before they find another body. What else do you want? =)

Title: Sworn to Silence
Author: Linda Castillo
ISBN-10: 0312374976
ISBN-13: 9780312374976
Hardcover: 321 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press, 2009

Challenges: 100+, Pub

Giveaway: Simon's Cat by Simon Tofield...

simon's catToday's giveaway is a YouTube sensation that has made its way to print.

About the book:
Simon Tofield's animations have taken YouTube by storm. Now, the feline Internet phenomenon makes his way onto the page in this first-ever book based on the popular animated series. SIMON'S CAT depicts and exaggerates the hilarious relationship between a man and his cat. The daily escapades of this adorable pet, which always involve demanding more food, and his exasperated but doting owner come to life through Tofield's charming and hilarious illustrations.



Giveaway!
Thanks to Hachette Book Group, I have up to five copies of Simon's Cat for you...
Rules:
-- Contest is open to US and Canada residents, no PO Boxes please!
-- To enter, comment and share: Cat? Dog? Both?
-- Follow for 1 extra entry.
-- Share for 2 extra entries (let me know what & where, please).
-- Every 10 people entered gets another copy in the hat, so tell everyone! =)
-- Do it all before 6:00 pm CST October 6th. Good luck!

Winner!!

September 22, 2009
Another set of winners today... There were 113 entries, from 41 people. And the lucky duck is...

Comment #43, RAZLOVER'S BOOK BLOG!!

Congratulations! Email has been sent out, please reply with your mailing information before the end of day Friday. And thank you, everyone, for swinging by!

The stats:
38 of you would LOVE to visit Venice (that should be 39, I'd love to, too). 2 have already been, lucky ducks. As for exotic locales, there's a tie between Hawaii and Rome, with Greece squeaking in right behind. And 19 believe in soulmates.

Want the book? Click on the cover to purchase from Amazon.com.

Winners!!

It's taken me a few days, but I finally tallied everything and picked winners of Claire LaZebnek's The Smart One and the Pretty One... 50 people entered--with 103 entries, so there are 5 winners. And according to Randomizer, they are:

Comment #88, booklover0226!!

Comment #11, Virginia!!

Comment #77, heatherzilla!!

Comment #42, traveler!!

Comment #6, Kathy of Bermudaonion's Weblog!!

Congratulations, everyone!! Emails have been sent out, please reply with your mailing information before the end of day Friday. And THANK YOU for swinging by!

Just for fun, I also compiled the answers. According to y'all, you're more smart than pretty (34 smart, 1 pretty, 11 both), and you prefer smarts in others (30 smart, 1 pretty, 1 either, 5 both). =) Thanks for playing along!!

Want the book? Click on the cover to purchase from Amazon.com.

164. The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel by Maureen Lindley...

the private papers of eastern jewelAbout the book:
An electrifying epic, based on the incredible true story of a Chinese princess turned spy.

Peking, 1914. When the eight-year-old princess Eastern Jewel is caught spying on her father’s liaison with a servant girl, she is banished from the palace, sent to live with a powerful family in Japan. Renamed Yoshiko Kawashima, she quickly falls in love with her adoptive country, where she earns a scandalous reputation, taking fencing lessons, smoking opium, and entertaining numerous lovers. Sent to Mongolia to become an obedient wife, Yoshiko mounts a daring escape and eventually finds her way back to Peking high society—this time with orders from the Japanese secret service.

Based on the true story of a rebellious woman who earned a controversial place in history, The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel is a vibrant reimagining of a thrilling life—a rich historical epic of palace intrigue, sexual manipulation, and international espionage.

drey's thoughts:
I requested this book based on the cover--I didn't know who Eastern Jewel was, which makes me wonder if I should somehow be ashamed to not know the history of my own race? Anyway. I asked for it, received it, and read it.

I have to admit, it took me a while to finish. Not because I didn't enjoy the book, but because the subject's life--while it must have been entertaining and adventurous to her--made me feel sad that she was as exploited as she was, and how willingly she participated in her own exploitation, all in the guise of freedom. Abandoned by her own family, mistreated by her adoptive family, and married off to live in a wasteland (especially when compared to her former homes!), Eastern Jewel, a.k.a. Yoshiko Kawashima, decides to make of the rest of her life what she wants. And so she runs.

Who knows if she might have been better served by staying in Mongolia? It's a moot point anyway, seeing as how her feet were set firmly on the path she was to traverse, from the tender age of fifteen. One wonders how her life might have differed, if the women in her adoptive family would have tended to her better than they did. Or if the family she was born into, would have kept her and taught her instead of sending her off to Japan.

As penned by Maureen Lindley, Eastern Jewel's story will resonate with those who seek to overcome society's mores to live their lives on their own terms. It also serves as a precautionary tale as to the predators who are willing to assist in achieving that life, yet exact a price--one that may be too high to contemplate.

Inasmuch as this is a fictionalized account of the life of a Chinese-princess-turned-Japanese-spy, I mourn the loss of a daughter of China to China's inability to love her own daughters.

Title: The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel
Author: Maureen Lindley
ISBN-10: 1596917032
ISBN-13: 9781596917033
ARC: 285 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA, 2009

Challenges: 100+, Pub

Louisa Edwards swings by for a lil' chat..

So, yesterday I posted a review of Can't Stand the Heat, by author Louisa Edwards. Today, I'd like to extend a warm welcome as she visits drey's library, and answers some questions. Welcome, Louisa!
drey: So, to jump right in, what prompted you to become a writer? Has this always been an ambition, or did you wake up one day & say, “Hey! Nobody’s writing what I want to read, so I guess I’ll just have to do it myself!”?

Louisa Edwards: I think all writers start out as readers. My love of romance novels began around age 11, when I started stealing Harlequins out of my grandma’s suitcase when she came to visit. Then, a year later, I found The Shadow & the Star by Laura Kinsale, and I was hooked. By the time I finished college, I knew I wanted to write. But I thought it might be smart to get a job in publishing and learn about the business from the inside first.

d: What’s different about being on the writer side of the industry, compared to being on the editor side? Which is easier? Which has better perks? *grin*

LE: I loved being an editor. Essentially, you’re paid to read! What could be more glorious? (d: ahh, my dream job!!) As a writer, though, I have more control over what I read, and I’ve been able to rediscover reading as a joy rather than as a work task, which has been wonderful.

d: Was Can’t Stand the Heat a story that was just waiting to come out? Can’t Stand the Heat pits a cook and a critic against each other. Where did you get the idea for that?

can't stand the heatLE: Honestly, I came up with the idea for CStH because I read Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, and just fell in love with him. As a writer, as a character, as a chef—I decided I wanted to write a chef hero. And who has the most obvious, immediate conflict with a chef? A food critic. So there was my heroine. It just kind of flowed from there.

d: How did you do research for what goes on in the kitchen? I imagine cooking in a restaurant is slightly (!) different than throwing together dinner in my kitchen! All the different stations, the role each person plays, to bring food to those on the other side of the doors...

LE: I read a lot of chef/kitchen memoirs, first-person accounts of working in professional kitchens from Heat by Bill Buford to The Making of a Chef and The Soul of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman. I’m also lucky enough to have several close friends who are chefs; I trailed them at their restaurants and bugged them with incessant questions.

d: The next few questions assume you like to cook, and I came up with “food groupie” from “food porn” on your blog... How much of a food groupie are you? Do you like to cook? Do you have one of those “cook’s kitchen’s” as HGTV calls ‘em? If so, how do you find your way around one of those? If you haven’t noticed already (from the questions), I’m not much of a cook...

LE: Food groupie—I like it! Foodie doesn’t work for me, as a term, because it implies I’m only interested in the food itself, not the cooking. For me, the cooking process is part of the fun! I love to cook—not to get all Julie Powell on you, but after I moved to Ohio I did, in fact, start cooking my way through Julia Child’s cookbook. Not with anything like the dedication of a Julia Powell, but still. The experience has been invaluable; I’ve learned so much technique just through trial and error. My kitchen might be classified as a “cook’s kitchen”—I’m not really sure! I find my way around easily, because it’s indisputably my domain. I placed every piece of equipment, every pot, every pan, every spatula, every whisk. I live in my kitchen.

d: Breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert?

LE: Breakfast, without a doubt. I could eat breakfast for every meal. We have omelettes for dinner all the time. And pancakes and waffles? They’re basically dessert, no matter when you serve them.

d: Follow-up to the previous question: What's your favorite dish? Do you like cooking it, eating it, or both? =)

LE: My favorite thing to cook is also one of my favorite things to eat—my mother’s recipe for buttermilk cornbread. You bake it in a cast-iron skillet and eat it with hot pepper jelly—honestly, it’s so damn good. You can’t even imagine.

louisa edwardsAnd the 10-question Proust-lite:
  1. What is your idea of earthly happiness? A farmer’s market
  2. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Frozen food
  3. Who is/are your favorite heroine(s) in fiction? Anne of Green Gables
  4. Who is/are your favorite heroine(s) in real life? Eleanor Roosevelt
  5. What sound do you love? My laptop waking up in the morning
  6. What sound do you hate? My dogs howling
  7. The quality you admire most in a man? Sense of humor
  8. The quality you admire most in a woman? Sense of humor
  9. If not a writer, you would be an Editor! Seriously, it was a great life. Either that, or I’d open a bakery.
  10. What is your favorite swear word? What I find myself actually using all the time is a phrase my mother says: “God bless America!” I know, doesn’t sound like a swear. It’s all in the tone, though. It’s more “God bless America!”
Isn't she just LOVELY?? And now I'm hungry again...

About Louisa:
Louisa Edwards grew up in Virginia, surrounded by the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. By age 11, she was sneaking Harlequins out of her visiting grandmother’s suitcase, making her parents nervous about what, precisely, their little girl was learning from those books. Naturally, they were relieved when Louisa decided to attend Bryn Mawr College, hoping the Seven Sisters vibe might instill the intellectual rigor she thus far seemed to lack.

To their dismay, however, even the ivy-covered halls of Bryn Mawr couldn’t distract Louisa from her addiction to romances. Instead, she traded in her Harlequins for longer, juicier single titles, reading everything from Laura Kinsale to Jennifer Cruisie. She also managed to graduate cum laude with a degree in Romance Languages (which is not as sexy as it sounds—mostly she studied Spanish, French, and Italian literature, although some of that French stuff did get fairly racy.)

After graduation, Louisa moved to Manhattan, landing a job as an editorial assistant at Penguin Group (USA), where she worked directly for the smart, savvy president of Mass Market Paperbacks, Leslie Gelbman, who guided Louisa as she built her own list.

Vindication! It was possible to make a living from reading romance novels. Louisa’s parents were equal parts surprised and thrilled. While at Berkley, Louisa was lucky enough to work with some great authors, assistant editing Leslie’s heavy hitters, Nora Roberts and Jayne Ann Krentz. Louisa’s own list included, among others, Lucy Monroe, Jennifer St. Giles, and Shelley Bradley. All of which led to Louisa being promoted to assistant editor.

Then real life romance ensued: Louisa married a journalist and was promptly exiled to Ohio so her husband could work for his family’s newspaper. There Louisa started reviewing romances for FreshFiction.com and took a part-time job at the Culinary Vegetable Institute. Personal interaction with chefs, plus the limited repertoire of local restaurants stoked Louisa’s interest in food. She began critiquing restaurants for the local newspaper, got sucked into Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen, trailed a chef friend at his restaurant in Raleigh, North Carolina, started cooking her way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and decided to bring it all together by writing CAN’T STAND THE HEAT.

Now she awaits the response of the masses to her foodie-inspired romance. Meanwhile, Louisa will continue to eat in as many wonderful restaurants as possible—purely for research, of course. Find Louisa online at her official website, www.louisaedwards.com, and her blog, Recipe for Love.

LE apron & spatula setAnd, wait! There's more. To help celebrate in Louisa's new release, here's a chance for one of you to win a CStH apron and spatula set! Here's how:
-- Contest is open to US and Canada residents, no PO Boxes please!
-- To enter, comment and share: Are you a food groupie? Why or why not? =)
-- Follow for 1 extra entry.
-- Share for 2 extra entries (let me know what & where, please).
-- Do it all before 6:00 pm CST October 5th. Good luck!

James Patterson MAXIMUM RIDE Promotion!!

September 21, 2009
maximum ride promotion banner

Calling all James Patterson fans!! Ok, to narrow it down a bit, since he writes LOTS of books--Calling all James Patterson's MAXIMUM RIDE series' fans!! *grin*

What's going on? Read on...

ENTER TO WIN A SET OF JAMES PATTERSON PAGETURNERS!

MAXIMUM RIDE – IF SHE LIVES, THE WORLD LIVES, IT’S THAT SIMPLE.
Read “MAX” - the newest book in the bestselling Maximum Ride series. On sale in paperback 09/01/09!
Still reeling from their most recent adventure, Maximum Ride and the rest of the flock must head out to sea to uncover the secret behind a brand new series of disasters—fish are dying off the coast of Hawaii, hundreds of ships are being destroyed. As if that weren’t enough, they’re also being tracked by a criminal mastermind with, oh yeah, an army of mercenaries. Can the flock save themselves and the ocean, and the world, from utter destruction?

To celebrate the paperback release of Mr. Patterson's Maximum Ride: Max, I am happy to host this promotion for two (yes, TWO) sets of the following books (yes, I said BOOKS):
  1. Maximum Ride: Max (paperback)
  2. Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment (paperback)
  3. Maximum Ride: School’s Out – Forever (paperback)
  4. Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports (paperback)
  5. Maximum Ride: The Final Warning (paperback)
  6. Maximum Ride: Manga (paperback)
  7. The Dangerous Days of Daniel X (paperback)
  8. Daniel X: Watch the Skies (hardcover)

Are you interested yet? Of course you are! Read on:
-- This is open to residents of the USA only, no PO Boxes, please.
-- Enter before 6:00pm CST October 4th. Can't wait? Click on the links to purchase from Amazon.com. (Note that the links might not go to the exact version of the book being offered.)
-- For one entry, leave a comment with your email address.
-- Following gets you another.
-- Sharing via twitter, blog, email, etc. gets you two entries for each action (be sure to let me know what you did & where, or cc me on emails).
-- Please make sure I have a way of contacting you if you're a winner.
-- HAVE FUN!

The Fine Print:
The Maximum Ride: Max Promotion is open to legal US residents who are at least 13 years of age as of August 31, 2009. There will be two prizes for each Promotion. Each prize consists of the following eight (8) books: Maximum Ride: Max (paperback); Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment (paperback); Maximum Ride: School’s Out – Forever (paperback); Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports (paperback); Maximum Ride: The Final Warning (paperback); Maximum Ride: Manga (paperback); The Dangerous Days of Daniel X (paperback); and Daniel X: Watch the Skies (hardcover). The approximate retail value of each prize is $72.00. Winners will be confirmed on or about September 28, 2009 by email. Prizes will only be shipped to confirmed winners with addresses in the US. Prizes will be shipped within 30 days after a selected entrant is confirmed as a winner.

163. Can't Stand the Heat by Louisa Edwards...

can't stand the heatAbout the book:
SHE'S HUNGRY FOR EXPERIENCE.

For sharp-tongued food critic Miranda Wake, the chance to spend a month in Adam Temple’s kitchen to write an exposĂ© is a journalistic dream come true. Surely Miranda can find a way to cut the hotshot chef down to size once she learns what really goes on at his trendy Manhattan restaurant. But she never expected Adam to find out her most embarrassing secret: she has no idea how to cook.

AND HE KNOWS JUST HOW TO SATISFY HER CRAVINGS...

Adam’s not about to have his reputation burned by a critic who doesn’t even know the difference between poaching and paring. He’ll just have to give the tempting redhead a few private lessons of his own—teaching her what it means to cook with passion…and doing more with his hands than simply preparing sumptuous food.

drey's thoughts:
Mmmm... Louisa Edwards' debut effort--Can't Stand the Heat--is yummy!! The witty repartee between Miranda and Adam, the snappy dialog between Adam and his staff, make this a fun, sizzling, read. Loved Frankie. Loved Jess. Loved Adam teaching Miranda how to poach eggs. And all the food talk in between these covers? Make sure you're not reading while hungry. =)

Want more Louisa? Come back tomorrow & see what she has to share with y'all...

Title: Can't Stand the Heat
Author: Louisa Edwards
ISBN-10: 0312356498
ISBN-13: 9780312356491
Paperback: 344 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press, 2009

Challenges: 100+, Pub

Winners!

September 20, 2009
I'm late! I'm late! Again... 'twas a very busy weekend for moi, and I'm finally getting around to picking the lucky ducks who're getting this yummy book in the mail. According to Randomizer, they are:

Comment #33, Jenny N.!!

Comment #62, Jasmyn!!

Congratulations, y'all!! Emails have been sent out, please reply before the end of day Wednesday. And THANK YOU for swinging by drey's library!

Didn't win? Click on the cover to purchase from Amazon.com.

162. Dreamfever by Karen Marie Moning...

dreamfeverAbout the book:
He has stolen her past, but MacKayla will never allow her sister's murderer to take her future. Yet even the uniquely gifted sidhe-seer is no match for the Lord Master, who has unleashed an insatiable sexual craving that consumes Mac's every thought--and thrusts her into the seductive realm of two very dangerous men, both of whom she desires but dares not trust.

As the enigmatic Jericho Barrons and the sensual Fae prince V'lane vie for her body and soul, as cryptic entries from her sister's diary mysteriously appear and the power of the Dark Book weaves its annihilating path through the city, Mac's greatest enemy delivers a final challenge...

It's an invitation Mac cannot refuse, one that sends her racing home to Georgia, where an even darker threat awaits. With her parents missing and the lives of her loved ones under siege, Mac is about to come face-to-face with a soul-shattering truth--about herself and her sister, about Jericho Barrons...and about the world she thought she knew.

drey's thoughts:
Ok. If you haven't read Karen Marie Moning's Fever series, don't pick it up. Yet. Wait until Shadowfever comes out. Trust me--it's because once you pick up these books, you just HAVE TO know how it all wraps up. Might as well wait till they're all there to read. Or you'll be stuck in Fever purgatory with me, anxiously waiting for the last installment to this mesmerizing series. Not that I wouldn't welcome company. *grin*

Now that the "warning" has been delivered, on to the "fun" stuff! Not that Mac would call what happened to her, "fun". Even if her Pri-ya-self does, on her way back to reality. Whether reality is a preferable state, is up to you.

Dreamfever picks up exactly where Faefever left off, without missing a beat. And on goes the drums of hell through the streets of Dublin. When Mac comes to her senses, she goes on a tear to save her city, not caring about the enmity from her sister sidhe-seers, Rowena's censure, Dani's adoration, V'lane's attempts at reconciliation, or Barrons. Even Barrons. Especially Barrons. Eventually, she comes to the realization that as much as she wants to do it all her way, on her own, she cannot. And if she is going to avenge her sister's death, she needs to reach out to the others who share some of her goals.

And so Mac grows up.

Title: Dreamfever
Author: Karen Marie Moning
ISBN-10: 0385341652
ISBN-13: 9780385341653
Hardcover: 362 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press, 2009

Challenges: 100+, Series, Pub, Support Your Local Library

Tour & Giveaway: 161. Lucan by Susan Kearney...

September 19, 2009
lucan tour button

Today's tour is Susan Kearney and her latest book, Lucan, the first in the Pendragon Legacy series.

About the book:
THEIR LOVE IS FORBIDDEN
Healer and high priestess of her people, Lady Cael is fated to life without a mate. But a mysterious explorer named Lucan Rourke doesn’t know her secrets, and his touch makes her crave a future that her extraordinary birthright has forbidden her...

BUT DANGER IS NO MATCH FOR DESIRE
Lucan has just one mission on Pendragon: to find the mythical Holy Grail, Earth’s only hope for survival. His powerful attraction to Cael is a distraction he can’t afford, unless he convinces her to join forces with him. Yet working so closely together only heightens their passion...even when the terrifying truth of Cael’s heritage threatens to shatter Lucan’s every belief—and the galaxy itself.

susan kearneyAbout the author:
Susan Kearney, a native of New Jersey, writes full time and has sold books to the industries' top publishing houses — Grand Central, Tor, Simon & Schuster, Harlequin, Berkley, Leisure, Red Sage and Kensington. As an award winning author, Kearney earned a Business Degree from the University of Michigan. Kearney's knowledge and experience spans throughout the romance genre, and her fifty plus books include contemporary, romantic suspense, historical, futuristic, science fiction and paranormal novels. She resides in a suburb of Tampa-—with her husband, kids and Boston terrier. Currently she's plotting her way through her 54th work of fiction.

Kearney is known for her sexy Rystani warrior books, The Challenge, The Dare, The Ultimatum and The Quest, a series of paranormal romances set in the future. In September 2009 Kearney begins the Pendragon Legacy series with LUCAN, a futuristic romance. She follows up with RION in December and JORDAN in March 2010.

You can find her online at her website, www.susankearney.com.

a little something from Susan:
Have you ever read a futuristic romance? Most readers haven’t. The number one reason is they think it’s all about technology or aliens-—but I assure you that’s not the case. First and foremost, LUCAN is about the romance. And though the heroine is from another world, she is very human, very female. She has all the hopes and dreams and fears as you and I. And the hero who is a sexy archeologist from Earth is the kind of man we all could fall in love with—daring, adventuresome, and caring.

So why do I chose to write about the future? Why write about other worlds? Because I can create places and characters that I can’t do on Earth. For example in LUCAN, the heroine is the High Priestess of Avalon. She’s the only woman on her world that can morph into a dragon. Her people revere her, but they also fear her. And while she longs to love and be loved—on her world that isn’t possible—not until an Alpha hero from Earth comes to her world on a search for the Holy Grail.

And when both of them begin to care for one another, dragons aren’t the only things flying. Sparks sizzle. But Lucan needs the Grail to save Earth and Lady Cael needs it for her world.

And when a villain comes after the Grail and Lucan must decide who and what is most important to him—well that is a plot I can’t write on Earth. =)

The Pendragon Legacy trilogy is all about romance and love. It’s also about how my heroes and heroines come to grips with what is really important in life. And how far they will go for the people they love. It’s all about how my characters react to danger, how they overcome their fears, how they risk their lives for others.

So if you’ve never read a futuristic romance, try LUCAN, I dare you. You might fall in love with an entire new genre that you never knew existed.




drey's thoughts:
Scorching hot read from Susan Kearney weaves Arthurian legends with science fiction and romance. When the story sizzles like this one, you don't really care that all the characters in this "sci-fi" book are humanoid.

I liked Susan's twist on the Arthurian myth, and how she brings dragons into the picture. I won't say more, because I don't want to spill. Romance fans will want to give this a whirl, even if they're not sci-fi fans per se, because really, the only reason "sci-fi" is even used to describe Lucan, is because there's another planet involved. 'nuff said.

lucanGiveaway!
Thanks to Hachette Book Group, I have up to five copies of Lucan for you...
Rules:
-- Contest is open to US and Canada residents, no PO Boxes please!
-- To enter, comment and share: Which is your favorite Knight of the Round Table? Or, if you don't have one, what's your favorite book or movie in the Arthurian realm?
-- Follow for 1 extra entry.
-- Share for 2 extra entries (let me know what & where, please).
-- Every 10 people entered gets another copy in the hat, so tell everyone! =)
-- Do it all before 6:00 pm CST October 2nd. Good luck!

160. The Smart One and the Pretty One by Claire LaZebnik...

September 18, 2009
About the book:
When Ava Nickerson was a child, her mother jokingly betrothed her to a friend's son, and the contract the parents made has stayed safely buried for years. Now that still-single Ava is closing in on thirty, no one even remembers she was once "engaged" to the Markowitz boy. But when their mother is diagnosed with cancer, Ava's prodigal little sister Lauren comes home to Los Angeles where she stumbles across the decades-old document.

Frustrated and embarrassed by Ava's constant lectures about financial responsibility (all because she's in a little debt. Okay, a lot of debt), Lauren decides to do some sisterly interfering of her own and tracks down her sister's childhood fiancé. When she finds him, the highly inappropriate, twice-divorced, but incredibly charming Russell Markowitz is all too happy to re-enter the Nickerson sisters' lives, and always-accountable Ava is forced to consider just how binding a contract really is . . .

drey's thoughts:
The Smart One and the Pretty One is a giveaway book that I thought looked cute. And hey, who can turn down a chick-lit novel about sisters when you have one yourself? =)

The interaction between Ava and Lauren is pretty realistic, in my opinion. When you have siblings, there's always a hint of that rivalry underlying any--and every--thing you do. Sometimes you work together to push each other to reach further. Sometimes you go in the exact opposite direction to differentiate yourselves. Lauren seems to have done the latter, and it's resulted in a lot of not-so-good-for-Lauren choices. Which she now has to face the consequences for, and she's running. Right back home to mom & dad. Until she camps out at Ava's. Whom she resents for being the "smart" one.

Which then brings their differences into the harsh glare of fluorescent lights. Not that Ava's "better" than Lauren. She propels herself into Lauren's complete opposite when it comes to fashion, and looking good. Not that she doesn't (look good), she just doesn't put in the effort that would make a difference. Because she doesn't want to be the "pretty" one.

While The Smart One and the Pretty One tries to be humorous and entertaining chick-lit, I think what comes through more than anything else, to me, is the reality that we women can sometimes be too harsh on ourselves. I mean, why put labels on ourselves? Who says we have to pick between being "smart" and being "pretty"? Why can't we be both? And what if we're really neither? Does that just doom us forever?

Title: The Smart One and the Pretty One
Author: Claire LaZebnik
ISBN-10: 0446582069
ISBN-13: 9780446582063
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: 5 Spot, 2008

Challenges: 100+

159. The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks...

September 17, 2009
last songAbout the book:
Seventeen-year-old Veronica "Ronnie" Miller's life was turned upside down when her parents divorced and her father moved from New York City to Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. Three years later, she remains angry and alienated from her parents, particularly her father...until her mother decides it would be in everyone's best interest if she and her younger brother spent the summer with him in North Carolina.

Ronnie's father, a former concert pianist, is living a quiet life in the beach town, immersed in creating a work of art that will be the centerpiece of a local church. Resentful and rebellious, Ronnie rejects all of his attempts to reach out to her and threatens to return to New York before the summer's end. But soon Ronnie meets Will, the town's local heartthrob, and the last person she thought she'd ever be attracted to. As Ronnie slowly lets her guard down, she finds herself falling deeply in love, opening herself up to the greatest happiness--and pain--that she has ever known.

An unforgettable story of love in all its myriad forms--first love, love between parents and children--The Last Song demonstrates, as only a Nicholas Sparks novel can, the many ways that love can break our hearts...and heal them.

drey's thoughts:
I really don't know how the dude does it. Book after book, multiples of which have been made into movies. And here's the latest in a long line of heart-tugging tales spun for your leisurely reading.

The story moved along pretty predictably, especially in the beginning. There's only so many ways to "write" a rebellious teenager who's angry with her parents, after all. But eventually you come to feel for Ronnie, her brother Jonah, and especially her father, Steve. Will is the perfect first love, Marcus the perfect anti-Will, Blaze the perfect penitent. There's really not much else in terms of characters. If you're looking for something deep, skip this. If you're looking for a chick-lit book to remind you of your (misspent?) youth and first love, pick it up with a dash of Bailey's. Don't forget the box of Kleenex--you'll need it towards the end.

Title: The Last Song
Author: Nicholas Sparks
ISBN-10: 0446547565
ISBN-13: 978-0446547567
Hardcover: 390 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing, 2009

Challenges: 100+, Pub

Hachette's Hispanic Heritage Month Giveaway!

September 16, 2009
hispanic heritage bannerHey everyone! Listen up! Hachette Book Group has a new giveaway for you--up to 5 lucky winners will receive the following 5 books:

  1. Zumba® by Beto Perez, Maggie Greenwood-Robinson
  2. Evenings at the Argentine Club by Julia Amante (review coming)
  3. Damas, Dramas, and Ana Ruiz by Belinda Acosta (review)
  4. Tell Me Something True by Leila Cobo
  5. Amigoland by Oscar Casares (review coming)


Want 'em? Of course you do! Here's how:
-- This is open to residents of the USA and Canada only, no PO Boxes, please.
-- Contest will run until 6:00pm CST October 15th. Can't wait? Click on the links to purchase from Amazon.com.
-- For one entry, comment and share: Do you think it's important to know another language? Why or why not?
-- Following gets you another.
-- Sharing via twitter, blog, email, etc. gets you two entries for each action (be sure to let me know what you did & where, or cc me on emails).
-- Please make sure I have a way of contacting you if you're a winner.
-- HAVE FUN!

WINNERS!!



Ok, I'm a few days late for this announcement... So very sorry, y'all!! Thank you for stopping by to enter a comment... Randomizer has been put to work, and out of 279 entries from 83 people, here are the FIVE lucky winners who will receive all five following books:
  1. NurtureShock by Po Bronson, Ashley Merryman
  2. Close Encounters of the Third-Grade Kind by Phillip Done
  3. In CHEAP We Trust by Lauren Weber
  4. The Love Revolution by Joyce Meyer
  5. Six Pixels of Separation by Mitch Joel

Comment #77, Dina of Just Another New Blog!!

Comment #12, rhapsodyinbooks of Rhapsodyinbook's Weblog!!

Comment #97, Michelle!!
Apparently Michelle is lucky enough to have already won this set of books somewhere else, so Randomizer's pick for the replacement is.. Comment #80, justicecw!!

Comment #131, bettycd of More Coffee for Everyone!!

Comment #47, Bcteagirl of Fabulous Canadian Freebies!!

Congratulations, everybody!! Emails have been sent, please reply with your mailing information before the end of day Saturday.

Thank you for swinging by drey's library!

Want the books? Click on the titles to purchase from Amazon.com.

158. Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey...

sandman slimAbout the book:
Life sucks, and then you die. Or, if you're James Stark, you spend eleven years in Hell as a hitman before finally escaping, only to land back in the hell-on-earth that is Los Angeles.

Now Stark's back, and ready for revenge. And absolution, and maybe even love. But when his first stop saddles him with an abusive talking head, Stark discovers that the road to absolution and revenge is much longer than you'd expect, and both Heaven and Hell have their own ideas for his future.

Resurrection sucks. Saving the world is worse.

Darkly twisted, irreverent, and completely hilarious, Sandman Slim is the breakthrough novel by an acclaimed author.

drey's thoughts:
I loved the first line on the inside cover. Life sucks, and then you die. I saw this on another blog (so wish I could remember where!) and thought it looked cool. Then I got it from the library, and it was cool. Darkly twisted? Definitely. Irreverent? In droves. Hilarious? Oh yeah--I laughed out loud in places.

In Sandman Slim, Richard has managed to present characters that are believable and real--never mind that Stark has been in Hell for the past 11 years. As a human. And survives. Never mind that there's magic and demons and angels scattered throughout the book.

If you like Harry Dresden, you'll love the snarky Stark with his ragged "fashion", bad-a$$ "friends", and head companion.

Title: Sandman Slim
Author: Richard Kadrey
ISBN-10: 0061714305
ISBN-13: 978-0061714306
Hardcover: 388 pages (itty bitty hardcover, though)
Publisher: HarperCollins, 2009

Challenges: 100+, Pub, Support Your Local Library

BBAW Reading meme...

Today's BBAW activity is a Reading meme. With the choice between answering one or two questions, or answering all of 'em in 5 words or less, I'm going with brevity. Wish me luck! Trust me, you'll appreciate it! =)

  1. Do you snack while you read? Yes If so, favorite reading snack? Chocolate (just a nibble)
  2. Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you? *Shudder*
  3. How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Bookmark, of course
  4. Laying the book flat open? No way!
  5. Fiction, Non-fiction, or both? Fiction...
  6. Hard copy or audiobooks? Hard copy
  7. Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you able to put a book down at any point? End of book if possible!
  8. If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away? Nope, I guess
  9. What are you currently reading? Lucan
  10. What is the last book you bought? Some Girls Bite
  11. Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can you read more than one at a time? One--monogamous reader
  12. Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read? Anywhere comfortable
  13. Do you prefer series books or stand alone books? Either, if it's good
  14. Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over? Yes, lots!!
  15. How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?) Alpha by author last name

Tour & Giveaway: 157. Highland Rebel by Judith James...

September 15, 2009
highland rebelToday's guest is Judith James, author of Highland Rebel. Check out what she has to share with you & I...
Intimate Moments

A friend of mine and very talented author TJ Bennett recently hosted a series of blogs on the topic of kissing and romance on IMHO (In My Humble Opinion). It got me thinking about intimacy in relationships in general, what promotes it, how it develops, and how important it is. Merriam Webster dictionary defines intimate as “the intrinsic essential; belonging to or characterizing ones deepest nature; marked by very close association, contact or familiarity; marked by a warm friendship developed through long association; suggesting informal warmth or privacy, of a very personal or private nature.”

It’s hard to imagine a couple being in love, or staying in love without being intimate, and by that I don’t mean sex. Sex, although generally private, isn’t necessarily intimate. Ask that of any sex-trade worker, one night stand, or person beginning an arranged marriage. I mean finishing each other’s sentences, knowing looks, the sharing of those sweet caresses, tender kisses, cherished dreams, and deep secrets that brings a couple ever closer. Intimacy can be beautiful, and it can also be dangerous. It involves risk and trust. If the trust is misplaced the results can be disastrous. By exposing one’s deepest self, one makes oneself deeply vulnerable.

Intimacy marks the difference between having sex as a physical act, and making love as an emotional bonding experience, but how do couples develop that which takes them from strangers who are attracted to each other, to intimate and loving partners? This is a theme I love to explore in my books. I think intimacy and how it’s achieved is an essential part of any love story, and although it may vary wildly depending on the couple and what is most private and integral to them, it’s always the door, at first open only a crack perhaps, through which love gains hold. It’s been mentioned to me several times that Gabriel and Sarah from Broken Wing, and Jamie and Cat from Highland Rebel are very different characters, so it should come as no surprise that intimacy develops in different ways for them as well.

Physically, intimacy might be expressed by a hand on an arm that sends shivers, a gentle trailing of the fingers across the loved ones shoulder, a caress on the cheek or a touch on the small of the back, and of course by the hug and the kiss. You can have sex without being intimate but can you have a really good kiss without it? It might not be necessary or even desirable with a one night stand; but it’s at the core of most romance- those magic moments when a couple takes one step closer to being us and we, rather than you and I. Gabriel’s only significant interaction with others had been sexual in nature. He had never been touched with tenderness or affection. Many prostitutes have “no kissing clauses” and typically refrain from kissing because they consider it more emotionally intimate than sexual intercourse, although some specialize in giving a “girlfriend experience” that includes cuddling, kissing and other intimate acts (yes I researched prostitution). For Gabriel, sharing that first kiss with Sarah was huge. At his core, because of his history, physical intimacy was where he was most vulnerable. It was an enormous risk to take and one that opened the door to a new relationship He and Sarah stepped through together.

Unlike Gabriel, Jamie is used to expressing affection physically, and that’s as intimate as he wants to get with anyone. He keeps people at a distance through disguise, subterfuge, and acting. Basically he is always wearing some kind of mask and no one can be said to know him intimately. Given his upbringing, profession and acquaintances it’s no surprise. Whereas Gabriel desperately wanted to love and belong, Jamie learned at an early age to be self sufficient and fend for himself. He thinks of love as an unnecessary complication and distraction at best, and a dangerous burden at worst.

Getting intimate physically is not an issue for Jamie at all, it’s emotionally that present difficulties. As long as a lady doesn’t expect the second, he’s happy to give her the first. When he and Catherine first kiss it’s a calculated thing on his part, but in the midst of all that’s happening, and despite what’s going on, for a moment there is something tender and intimate about that kiss that gives them both pause. It sparks a strong physical attraction that starts a slow but inevitable burn, but he’s an attractive, experienced 17th century upper class male, and he’s kissed his share of women. Unlike Gabriel, one kiss is not going to change Jamie’s world.

So how do you forge an intimate connection with a man who’s full of secrets, makes a joke of everything, and always seems to wear a mask? How Catherine disarms Jamie and finds her way into his heart is the love story at the centre of Highland Rebel.

Thank you very much for having me here today. As always I’m happy to answer any questions you might have. The one I have for you is, do you remember your first intimate romantic moment, whether it was holding hands, sharing a secret, or that first kiss? I wish you all luck in the book draw, and hope you will enjoy reading Jamie and Cat’s adventures as much as I enjoyed writing them.

About the author:
Judith James has worked as a legal assistant, trail guide, and counselor. Living in Nova Scotia, her personal journey has taken her to the Arctic and the West Coast. Her writing combines her love of history and adventure with her keen interest in the complexities of human nature and the heart's capacity to heal. For more information about Judith, please visit www.judithjamesauthor.com.

About the book:
Amidst the upheaval of Cromwell's Britain, Jamie Sinclair's wit and military prowess have served him well. Leading a troop in Scotland, he impetuously marries a captured maiden, saving her from a grim fate.

A Highlands heiress to title and fortune, Catherine Drummond is not the woman Jamie believes her to be. When her people effect her rescue, and he cannot annul the marriage, Jamie goes to recapture his hellcat of a new wife...

In a world where family and creed cannot be trusted, where faith fuels intolerance and war, Catherine and Jamie test the bounds of loyalty, friendship, and trust...

drey's thoughts:
Heh. Girl rides off to save her foolish brother in the middle of a battlefield. Girl gets captured by mercenaries. Girl is rescued by the "enemy". Girls is then married to the "enemy". Apparently this is what happens when you don't listen to your menfolk and run around like a hoyden. Not that I think there's anything wrong with running around like a hoyden! Go Catherine! *grin*

Highland Rebel is highly entertaining, and so very romantic... I know, I know. Isn't it supposed to be romantic, you ask? Well. Just because it's a romance novel doesn't mean it's got to be romantic. There are some that are, and some that aren't. Some are scorching hot. Some are light-hearted and warm-fuzzy. Some are romantic. Some are not.

The interplay between Jamie and Catherine is wickedly funny at times, tender at times, and delightfully tantalizing at times. Whether you care for the Highland setting, you should pick this one up if you're a fan of romance genre.

Giveaway!
Thanks to Sourcebooks, TWO lucky ducks will win one copy of Highland Rebel!!
Rules:
-- Contest is open to US and Canada residents, no PO Boxes please!
-- To enter, comment and answer Judith's question: Do you remember your first intimate romantic moment, whether it was holding hands, sharing a secret, or that first kiss?
-- Follow for 1 extra entry.
-- Share for 2 extra entries (let me know what & where, please).
-- Do it all before 6:00 pm CST September 28th. Good luck!

Tour stops:
8/19: Romance Novel tv
8/24: This Book for Free
8/25: A Journey of Books
8/26: Love Romance Passion
8/27: Anna’s Book Blog
8/31: Night Owl Romance
9/1: Ramblings on Romance
9/2: Romance Bookwyrm
9/3: Fresh Fiction
9/4: Morbid Romantic
9/7: Happily Forever After
9/8: Cindy Reads Romance
9/9: Pop Syndicate’s Book Addict
9/10: The Book Faery
9/11: Peeking Between the Pages
9/14: Romance Reader at Heart’s Novel Thoughts Blog
9/16: Starting Fresh
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